The Biden administration set new targets, but has not yet declared specific plans by sector to get it done.
On Thursday, U.S. President Joe Biden opened a climate summit, with a goal to cooperatively lower greenhouse gas emissions in tandem with other world governments by 2030. Beyond setting an ambitious goal to halve emissions from 2005 levels in the next 9-1/2 years, this opportunity also saw other world leaders announce their plans to protect the environment.
“The signs are unmistakable,” Biden said as the conference opened. “The science is undeniable. The cost of inaction keeps mounting.” To that end, he announced a specific commitment to drop up to 52 percent of fossil fuel emissions by that 2030 target. As of 2019, the U.S. had reduced its emissions by 13% from 2005 levels, according to climate scientist Niklas Hohne, as reported by Reuters. While administration officials set out the big picture goal, they did not yet specify sector-by-sector targets. However, most expect actions to limit emissions from power plants, the automotive industry and other major sources.
Biden pushed for efforts to confront the effects of climate change on the campaign trail, and made it a key focus of his $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, unveiled in late March.
Other countries also raised their targets
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga nearly doubled his government’s targets. He announced plans to cut emissions by 46% by 2030, rather than 26%. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau set a more ambitious target of 40% to 45% of 2005 levels, up from 30%.
But what about China, the world’s largest emitter ahead of the United States? While the country also heavily relies on coal, Chinese President Xi Jinping did not announce a new, specific emissions goal, instead saying that his country’s carbon emissions will peak before 2030. From there, he says China aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2060.
Market forces will outweigh political ideals, Biden admin says
As the United States rejoins the Paris Agreement, political divisions leave some skeptical these targets will be feasible after the 2022 midterms or, crucially, the 2024 presidential election. Nevertheless, the Biden administration insists market forces will drive alternative fuels and renewable energy prices downward. If the plan delivers on millions of well-paying jobs in the sector, it would diminish the argument for fossil fuels as a primary energy source.
The targets, in large part, are enmeshed in a worldwide effort to limit the earth’s temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. The United States’ pledge among several other countries in the European Union, North America and Asia, representing more than half the world’s economy, will reduce emissions enough to keep global warming below that threshold if they make good on the new targets.